Re: Private high school for disorganized smart kid
We had a great experience with the Mentoring Academy after a disastrous experience with a small private school. Mentoring provides a self-paced, individualized learning experience. The director, John Muster, is a caring and engaged individual. He will spend significant time and energy getting to know your child and designing a program that is a good fit. He looks at the whole child \xc3\xa2\xe2\x82\xac\xe2\x80\x9c not just the academic piece. Mentoring is an all-day school with little to no homework (schoolwork is done during school hours, 9-5). This is a wonderful relief if you and your child are tired of homework dance. Hope this helps. MM
Mentoring Academy is a new school, headed by John Muster, the former head at Maybeck High School. Our son has been very happy there this year. He is able to pursue classes that really engage him -- he is taking accredited high school classes as well as two college classes. The classes at Mentoring are a combination of on-line classes and classes taught at school. The students are at school from 9-5:30, and do all their work at school and have evenings and weekends without any homework, which we find to work really well. We have known John Muster for five years (both our children were students at Maybeck). He has a great rapport with students and encourages their intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. I think this school would work well for a lot of different kinds of students--certainly for bright, outside of the box kids, but also for students who are still figuring out what their passions are. The Mentoring environment encourages students to take the good kinds of risks--to try new kinds of classes and to learn about new things, in a supportive environment. Parent of a Mentoring Academy Student
John Muster created Mentoring Academy with a vision of "providing the most effective, vibrant, human, compelling, and engaging learning environment possible." This vision exactly reflects what John provided to our son as his mentor/independent study English teacher in the year leading up to the launch of Mentoring Academy in the fall of 2012. John is an amazing educator. I highly recommend that you check out Mentoring Academy for your child's High School education. It is conveniently located near Rockridge BART on College Avenue.
Our Story: John Muster was head teacher at Maybeck High School when we first met him several years ago. We were looking for a High School in the Berkeley area that would appropriately accommodate our very bright, but extremely dyslexic son. John and our son really hit it off when they met, and though our son was not a good fit for Maybeck, John became his private tutor (for lack of a better word) for over a year as a result of their meeting. I would describe John's approach to teaching as diagnostic (what mastery is needed?), compassionate and inspiring. Our son was especially struggling with his tenth grade English class, so John helped us arrange for our son to complete the year long course with him as independent study. John was able to capture our son's interest by identifying topics he'd be excited to read and write about, and help him master a process for writing academic papers that he could carry forward to all his classes. John ultimately had our son give presentations at his school based on his papers to build other teachers' awareness of his capabilities, as well as his self esteem.
Working with John has truly transformed our son's academic life. With the launch of Mentoring Academy, your High School student now has the awesome possibility of working with John and his colleagues themselves. Rosanne
I have a son who is in the 11th grade and who is both dyslexic and dysgraphic. Over the years he has had extensive tutoring for language based skills. John Muster the head of Mentoring academy worked with my son for several months and the results of his tutoring have been astonishing. Previously, my son struggled to complete his writing assignments and he can now complete them without significant help. His writing grades have significantly improved from a D to a B. I know that my sons improvement is due to the help that was provided to him by John. From talking with John, I know he has a very special approach to teaching. I believe it starts with getting to know the student as a person and trying to identify the students strengths and weaknesses. John then puts together a tutoring program for that student. In my conversations with John, I also know that he is continually thinking about the student and what can be done to better serve the student. John is very personable and is very good at engaging the student in the work. If my son was just starting high school, the Mentoring Academy and John Muster would be the first on my list of schools. wjb
We have a middle schooler who will be applying to high school in a few years, and we are wondering what schools might be a good fit for him down the line. We're not convinced a hard core college prep school is the best route, but we might be wrong. We're guessing he'll be an engineering or designing sort of person eventually, he's definitely geek/nerd type and creative (and perhaps alternative), but not a model student! We are interested in hearing from parents who have kids like this who are in high school now--what schools work or don't work (and why), and perhaps a bit about your kid(s) to get a sense if their experiences might be something we might encounter as well. Thank you very much. anon
My son is a first year student at the Mentoring Academy, a new high school in Rockridge. Coursework is individualized and self-paced, with plenty of opportunity to work one on one with mentor-teachers. It's new, but I'd encourage you to check it out. Students there are the kind of kids who build things in their spare time--and they have spare time b/c there is a long school day but no homework. Definitely a good place for bright, creative kids who may not do as well in more traditional classroom settings. Mentoring Academy is college preparatory, but there's far less pressure than at most high schools. Happy Mentoring Academy Parent
We have experience with both Tilden Prep and Mentoring Academy. Both schools are good at what they do but they work on very different models.
Our oldest child attended Tilden for one year, getting individual instruction from teachers. The directors are both knowledgeable in the education field, and we found the teachers to mostly be good. They are well-prepared in the topics they teach but they are not necessarily trained as teachers. The school seems to work well for students who are motivated and are able to get work done independently. It also allows students who are struggling with a subject to go at a slower pace. Because the classes are one-on-one it can get expensive.
Our younger child attends the new Mentoring Academy. The students take a mix of Mentoring classes and on-line classes. The classes are accredited and meet UC requirements. A wide range of classes is available and students who are ready for more challenging classes take college-level classes. They are at school from 9-5:30, working on their classes, getting individual tutoring, or working with other students on projects. They also participate in various social events. They complete all their work at school and don't have homework. Our child attended a private high school for two years and was a good student, but somewhat bored. At Mentoring he is taking classes that really interest him. The director, John Muster, is a gifted educator. He was well-respected by parents and students as the head of Maybeck High School. He has an amazing rapport with the students. At Mentoring he works closely with the students to make sure that they get the right classes and are actively engaged in their own educations. Mentoring Academy is new and still very small, but I imagine it will grow quickly as the word gets out, and there are plans to add art and other classes. It has been exciting to see our son so engaged in his classes. Even though he does not have homework he sometimes works at home because he is so interested in what he is doing. A Berkeley Parent
Each of the three schools mentioned has strong and effective solutions to meeting the needs of students. All three provide self-paced instruction. This posting is a brief explanation of the features of Mentoring Academy because there are some important differences. Students are expected to be at Mentoring Academy from 9 to 5:30 each day to meet with teacher-mentors, engage in projects with other students, participate in discussions and to complete their individual work. We do not send students home with homework, rather expect them to complete all work with the support and guidance of the mentors on staff and engaged with them during the school day. Evenings are for families, following personal interests, and resting in preparation for the next day. Social, travel, all school and joint events provide for a rich interpersonal life as well as a strong academic environment. Every student is placed at their appropriate level whether it be Advanced Calculus, AP courses, or modules that assist in mastering skills missed in earlier schooling. All courses are mastery, project, self-paced, mentored and engaging. A-G approved courses. The approach is to support individual student mastery, accepting the fact that no two students are alike. John Muster, Director of Mentoring Acadcemy
Thanks to all respondents. Our conclusions: about Mentoring Academy, John Muster: the program is small and new. We visited and met twice with John. Significantly, my son wanted to transfer there after meeting and feeling extremely comfortable with John and the students. I found John's engagement with my son and the other kids to be excellent -- respectful, insightful, and encouraging a reflective and investigative attitude. Different than Tilden in that although each studies on his own, students are on site all day, interacting during breaks, with John and the tutors. We decided not to enroll there, and not for reasons of cost -- it is actually sliding scale. We decided for BISP instead to facilitate our kid's sustained participation in BHS classes and groups he is already involved in.
I have two older teenagers, both of whom are gifted, yet each with rather different learning styles and both of whom have had John Muster, the founder of the Mentoring Academy, as both a teacher and advisor. I can easily say that he is an exceptional educator who truly knows and connects with young people and is a brilliant and caring man as well. (Believe me, the kids can tell!) Had this school been available a few years back, I would have loved to have sent my kids to Mentoring Academy for their high school education! Julie '